Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Blind Eye Means a Closed Mouth

It is one of the oldest excuses our people have to rely on: A healthy terror of the evil eye. 

By all standards of Judaism it should not wield such an intimidating power, but it does. Ayin hara is simultaneously poo-pooed yet hurriedly invoked. 

My parents always scoffed at the supposed efficacy of the roita bindel. I was therefore surprised when visiting Bàbi with my brother's first child, many years ago, she shuffled off to the closet and pulled out a bundle of red string. A short length was snipped off and tied around his chubby wrist, the thread disappearing within a fold of fat. It was probably removed quite soon following, once it could be found again.

I don't think she gave it any sort of clout, but it must have been something seen enough in her childhood that she continued the tradition. 
Yet while bindels may abound, it is not realized that perhaps the best bet is not to brag in the first place. Without "old country" superstition on their side, even gentile parents expect moms to keep mum. 
. . . a rare consensus has emerged on at least one topic. What subject could possibly be so clear-cut it has elicited once-in-a-generation unanimity?
That parents should stop bragging about their children.
That’s right, apparently the civil rights issue of our age is that you have the right to remain silent — and I have the right not to hear about — how your daughter learned to read at 16 months, your son scored 12 goals in the soccer game, and your darling got into Brown, his first choice! (All these example were taken from actual, antibragging diatribes.)
Bruce Feiler offers a comprehensive list as to acceptable bragging situations. I was pleased to see that number 8, "Bragging to Granny is allowed," echoes Rabbi Yisroel Reisman's position. Although as I understood him in the original shiur, that is actually the only person, at all, one can brag about their children to.

An accomplished child is a wonderful being, but out of fear of a satanic minion, or concern for another's feelings, keeping quiet has a multitude of beneficial outcomes.      


FrumGeek said...

Both my Hungarian grandmothers were really into the whole eyin hara thing.

Princess Lea said...

I'm sure. But as much as they may try to deny otherwise, so is everyone else. :D